IFA Magazine’s recent reader survey, carried out in conjunction with specialist T&C and People Compliance platform, HRComply, revealed that advisers have real concerns about coping with the pressures of complying with ever increasing regulatory requirements.
Can advisers really futureproof their business by working smarter not harder when it comes to regulation and compliance?
To delve a bit deeper into this, IFA Magazine’s Sue Whitbread recently caught up with HRComply’s CEO, Neil Herbert. Following on from our previous conversation with Neil, (see part one here) where we looked at some of the key issues, in this Q&A snapshot, Sue and Neil talk in more detail about how automation and technology can work in practice to help advisers to streamline their processes and operations and reduce their concerns.
Sue:What are the benefits to advisers and their businesses of using a RegTech solution like HRComply?
“I’d say that the key benefits to advisers is that it’s an incredibly flexible, simple and practical platform to use.
“The deliverability of the system, the affordability of it – and its ability to deliver assessment and benchmarking and control of almost all aspects of regulated business delivery and people risk – – means it reduces operational risk overall. And it’s all totally automated – whether it’s the T&C, HR or all the various certification regimes compliance, the platform handles it all..
“It’s very reassuring for senior management teams and business owners to know that they have sound processes in place to deal with all these things. It also helps advisers to work out the best way for them to manage their competence and quality performance moving forward – as well as to get people to buy into it. Engagement is key – make it easier to do – and you greatly increase completion and thus compliance in delivery and conduct.”
Sue: Regulation is constantly changing these days, so does automation allow advisers to integrate the latest developments more easily or not?
Neil: “Automation makes it much easier to keep on top of developments. The overriding thing we heard loud and clear from our IFAM Magazine reader survey was that it’s a major burden for advisers to deal with regulation and compliance.
“The Senior Management Teams within advice firms will want to ease that burden so they are able to sleep at night knowing that they’ve got things properly under control.
“In reality, advice firms are never going to do that if they’re still relying on analogue systems, on old-fashioned management and oversight armed only with a web of spreadsheets and data. It’s just impossible for them to keep on top of it all that way.
“So, having a platform that literally automates everything where, with the simple click of a button, assessments can go out, all the file checks can be run, all their observations can be done, they can look at client outcomes, at quality etc. delivers a huge amount of the heavy lifting.
“Advisers can do all of those things and a whole lot more through the use of a simple set of benchmarking and assessment processes and automating them using technology.
“As you say, with more and more regulations to comply with, any system needs to be able to meet future demands as well as today’s. Let’s face it, the pressures of regulation are only going to get even greater for advisers, so having an automated system built on sound processes and good data has huge merit.”
Sue: How easy is it in practice for advisers to use an automated platform like HRComply’s?
Neil: “As I mentioned earlier, using our system is very simple and easy for advisers to use from outset, but also it is extremely thorough and massively flexible. Some firms just want to use our ‘out of the box’ solution, whereas others will want something very bespoke and structured to their business. We can deliver both. Either way, the platform is very easily integrated into an advice business. However, for the smaller firm that just wants an immediate solution, the good news is that it’s readily available, easy to use and at an extremely affordable cost too. “ We can also reproduce existing processes and don’t forget a full performance appraisal and training system is included.
Sue: What tips would you give advisers on how to get started and put the right processes in place?
Neil: “I’d say that to ensure they have those robust processes in place, the key things for advisers are, firstly, to work out what their benchmarks need to be and where their risks lie. Then, they need to ensure they get the right data and use an automated platform to manage it. Having a robust audit trail in place is also essential.
“We can help with all of that of course and can deliver any kind of assessment that’s required. Advisers can build their own checklists on anything, and I mean literally anything. For example, it might be performance appraisals, competence assessments, personnel conduct assessment, meeting observations, AML compliance as well as training, completion and effectiveness etc. The scope is unlimited and can extend to deliver across so many verticals.
“And to go a step further, within any assessment that’s done, if there’s a particular shortfall identified it’ll be flagged up automatically and immediately. Such knowledge really helps advisers identify risks and allows for mitigation of them too. The system will then generate a ‘follow-up’ to make sure actions are being taken.
“The general feedback we get from people is that dealing with all these actions just doesn’t need to be an issue. Advisers will have their live interaction with the platform of course. This shows them, in real time, exactly what their tasks are and all the things to be done. But they’ll also get emails saying what needs to be completed and when, or, for example, that a file check is being done on a particular day etc. It really is very intuitive and comprehensive and very straightforward.
“Most of the forms/assessments are completed through simple clicks and can be done in a matter of minutes. Of course, what’s important is what advisers will then actually DO with the details of that assessment – and that’s where it goes over to the professionals – their L&D people, their compliance, T&C or HR people. These are all metrics which, once obtained, can be readily used within the business.”
Sue: What do advisers who are existing users of HRComply’s platform actually say about it? Do they find that it’s easy to use in practice or does it take time to get used to?
Neil: “I’ve said it before, but simplicity really is one of the main benefits which users of our platform tell us they have. The overriding feedback we get from our clients is that they’re happy using it and that having it in place makes their lives easier.
“Of course, in any business, it’s important to have efficient integration of all the different software systems used. We realise that this is particularly the case for financial advisers, who will be using numerous different packages from CRM databases to Cash Flow forecasting tools amongst others.
“One advantage for advisers using HRComply is that everything in our system goes in and out through Excel. Advisers can therefore extract information/data from any other system and automate the upload of it into ours. It’s quite simple for advisers to integrate it with other software systems and means they can properly automate their processes. People know their way around Excel, it’s become such a common way of managing reports, managing inputs, managing outputs etc. and it really helps our user experience. Dashboards and oversight screens complete the picture – and these can be designed to meet clients’ needs.
“However, I’d strongly argue that advisers should not be spending much of their time on doing these types of tasks. It’s just not their main priority to fill out endless assessments, undergo endless observations or compliance checks etc.
“Whilst these things are clearly important and need to happen, they can all be done really easily and as an aside, by using an automated system such as HRComply’s. That way, it’s much more likely that the personnel working within the business are going to engage with it and that it can help the whole business to operate much more smoothly.
“Advisers can then focus all their efforts on the delivering key business activities and results such as servicing clients, client acquisition, growing their business and their profitability. Most importantly, this can all be achieved whilst having the peace of mind that comes from having robust processes, clear audit trails and records in place. I’d argue that’s a win-win situation!”
For more information about how your advice business can streamline People Compliance, Certification and T&C whilst reducing the worry and burden of keeping up to date, or to arrange an online demo of the HRComply platform, contact the HRComply team at email@example.com, call Neil on 020 3176 7859, or visit their website: www.hrcomply.co.uk
HRComply was founded in 2009, capitalising on many years spent assisting financial institutions in delivering T&C, Conduct and Performance solutions to meet FCA requirements. As new regulatory regimes have been introduced, HRComply has worked with its clients to develop the software to its current four-solution structure.
Our focus is delivering products, content, processes and support that are individually tailored to our customers’ needs. All of our development work has been conducted in collaboration with our clients, designed to meet their business requirements and address their regulatory risks.
HRComply has a strong and dynamic Senior Management and delivery team. Between them they have many decades of City-based HR, Compliance and T&C experience delivering software system solutions to meet regulatory and client needs.